Monday, July 27, 2009

A little chat with Jaye Bartell

Some of Jaye's stuff.

Pilgrim plays this friday evening at The Bebe Theatre in conjunction with John Crutchfeld's play "Songs of Robert."
If you miss this performance do not fret because Pilgrim will also be playing at Bobo's Saturday night.
Jaye Bartell is Pilgrim. With his haunting lyrics and simple melodies he is one of my favorite singer/songwriters -- Watching Pilgrim play live is always a captivating experience - Not just for his stance and delivery
, but for the revolving musicians that accompany him and evolve the music.
Below is an interview I recently conducted with Bartell via chat on the internet.
Check out his music at
You can download his entire album "Feeling Better Pilgrim"

me: Okay I got them.

I'm thinking I should...interview you!

for the blog, man.

: yeah!

11:56 AM


me: For reelz!

Jaye: yeah, let's do it

give it a try

me: Right noW??

Jaye: I don't think I can

ask me a question though

me: okay.

hold on.

11:57 AM

Jaye: or type questions, I'll print it, and answer on my break

me: which comes first, the lyric or the melody?

11:58 AM

How has your experience as a poet effected the music?

11:59 AM

(help me out here.)

just talk about stuff...

Jaye: hold on

me: whatever you think you want to have expressed

Jaye: The melody typically begins the writing process. A lyrical phrase is then developed from a phonetic origin. It could be that there are semantic qualities to certain melodies, but the enduring interest is speech, or lyric speech, melodic speech. Robert Kocik (Check sp.)in NY has done some intriguing work on the semantic value of sounds, of phonemes specifically--the basic sonic aspects of speech. I'd like to claim that I operate with those concepts in mind, because they have more weight perhaps than matching "don't leave me" to "do re me," but I can only do so much.

12:06 PM

me: hee hee

tell me more!

12:07 PM

Tell me more about your instrumentation choices with Pilgrim

12:11 PM

Jaye: In poetry, I went for the musicality in language, with a major interest in rhythm. The old "machine made of words," making it move, that the writing would comprise, would be, not portray, an act of speech. Since music is necessarily active, and so temporal (at least in the way I'm currently doing it), I find that I'm focusing less on formal elements, although movement and vitality will always be important. With respect to both activities, and any other that may come along, all I require is that the process engages, that the materials respond to efforts, to ideas, impulses, and "the need to get said what must be said."

12:14 PM

me: Can you please tell me about your musical training/education..formal or otherwise.

12:15 PM

please include aesthetic/artistic inspirations etc

12:16 PM

Jaye: I can't say that I have been able to make any choices with instruments at this point. I want to play with an orchestra. The Asheville Symphony, I don't care. I'm doing as much as possible with what comes readily to hand. There are over 80 instruments in an orchestra, yet they all work subtly together, with swells and rises from time to time. I resist the muddle because my mind is so muddled to begin with. All that said, I'll just as happily play alone and pursue that kind of fullness with presence alone, of voice and whatever else.

12:19 PM

me: What kind of things do you like to surround yourself with?

What do you avoid and why?

12:20 PM

Jaye: Influences vary greatly, and I'm afraid that I can't admit them without lying to make myself seem more interesting. You should flip through my records and make a small list (But don’t mention Lou Reed or Leonard Cohen because that’s too obvious.)

12:21 PM

writers are always of interest, even with writing music.

12:22 PM

Creeley, Camus, Olson.



hold on..

12:23 PM

me: I need to do some stuff.. I will be back

12:25 PM

Jaye: R. Bresson wrote in "Notes on the cinematographer" to "avoid paroxysm of emotion, because tantrums of any sort are all the same." I like that.

me: whats a paroxysm?

12:26 PM

What's wrong with having tantrums be the same?

12:27 PM

Jaye: They have no dimension

Why scream in horror if it's the same as screaming in pain?

Why yell when it's the same as laughing?

12:28 PM

me: How is it the same?

I know I'm being too literal, but the perspective could be that the subtleties are just as important.

Jaye: Anybody can do them

12:29 PM

me: because everybody feels them

Jaye: at any time

so why communicate what is so common as to be granted?

12:30 PM

me: because it's a matter of empathy?

12:31 PM

Jaye: but what's the value in that?

me: I need to read the thing, but I think that the nuances of each tantrum is important

Jaye: In many ways, there is no nuance

me: because its how we relate to each other.

Jaye: I'm talking about in art here

12:32 PM

not an argument, or at the kitchen table

in film, music, poetry

me: what is the alternative?

Jaye: Not seeming to be something

Not indicating or dramatizing

12:33 PM

me: but everyone's definitions of those words are different

12:34 PM

Jaye: sure

12:35 PM

I give up

me: I mean, imagine if Martha Stewart threw a tantrum? an artistic tantrum? how awesome would that be, but then again, who's to say she's not doing that right now with her self referential magazine and cooking show.

maybe it's all a tantrum

like everyone's art, all the time is a tantrum of sorts

Jaye: The intensity to your response is the same intensity of response given by everybody else when they respond intensely

12:36 PM

As such, I can dismiss it as "intense"

Or folk music.

me: like whatever, take a chill pill man.

12:39 PM

Jaye: You're right about celebrity tantrums, blow-ups and outs. I think daily of Bill O'Reilly screaming "fucking thing sucks" at the camera back when he had an anchorman job and haircut. It was much better than French film.

12:40 PM

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

best interview ever.